Indoor Air Quality
What energy efficiency upgrades in your home can be done to make it comfortable, healthy and cost-effective?
The Three Biggest Opportunities for Improvement Are:
- Air sealing (most cost effective but precautions need to be taken)
- Mechanical system upgrades
The main characteristics of home that should be considered are…
1.AIR QUALITY If your family isn't breathing healthy air, nothing else matters. Air quality issues from crawlspaces or combustion appliances. Fresh air ventilation should be planned into homes that are reasonably airtight.
2.MOISTURE The single most important factor affecting durability is deterioration of materials by moisture. Houses should be protected from wetting during construction and operation, and be designed to dry should they get wet. This come in many forms especially with the wrong. Insulate an attic without proper air sealing and risk creating moisture in the attic.
3.AIR FLOW AND PRESSURE There are 3 drivers of air leakage and pressure imbalances in your home
- Stack Effect (warm air rises and cool air sinks) one of the driving force of radon entry in your home.
- Forced Air Systems (furnaces/air conditioners pushing and pulling air) unbalanced and too much static pressure in the system and create an uncomfortable indoor environment.
- Wind (the most unpredictable and hardest to mitigate)
4.HEAT FLOW Heat flows in three ways: Radiation, Convection, and Conduction. Each part of a house can affect, and be affected by, all three heat flows – depending upon its design, the materials it’s made of, and the systems it uses for providing comfort to its occupants.
Ever hear the myth that you don't want a home to be 'too tight'. That's hogwash- you want as much control as possible over your home's air leakage. Build it tight, and then ventilate it right.
This can be achieved by installing an Energy/Heat Recovery Ventilator (ERV or HRV). You want these systems to be as quiet as possible and to be proven to move the right amount of air- not too much and not too little. To little air results in poor air quality. Too much air and you are waiting money and energy.
If you're going invest money, time, and energy on your home, make sure it will give you back what you put into it. Careful planning and performance testing being the keys. Your home won’t need rescuing if you do it right the first time.
Moisture and Air Quality Problems
Excess moisture can result in problems. Moisture problems in a home bring about unwanted consequences. Apart from the obvious leak damages, another concern is the potential for mold growth (mold spores) which leads to air quality problems. Although mold spores are ubiquitous in nature, higher concentration due to mold growth in your home can cause some unintended health issues. The most economical and effective way to combat mold growth is to fix the moisture issue. There are two causes of moisture problems in your home: leaks and condensation.
What to do when there is a leak.
- Locate where the moisture is coming
- Adopt prevention measures to avoid excess moisture in the home
- Perform regular maintenance checks and repair minor defects that can cause leaks
- Hire a qualified contractor for major repairs
- Monitor remediation to ensure problems have been solved
Condensation, where and how to prevent it.
Approximately 10 to 50 litres of moisture is released in your home every day from normal activities such as: showering, cooking, people, pets and basement dampness. Moisture can also be released by: improperly vented clothes dryers, faulty/improper setting of humidifiers, excess plants. During heating season, lots of moisture can be trapped inside the home. Newer homes are a greater concern as they are built with less air infiltration and this can affect indoor air quality. In the winter, high humidity in your home can cause condensation on cold surfaces, leading to moisture problems. Here are a few strategies to help reduce moisture:
- Reduce indoor moisture sources by installing low flow aerators
- Monitor and adjust humidifiers as needed during the heating season to keep the humidity at acceptable levels
- Keep the air circulation going in all rooms of the house. This includes having the drapes and blinds open during heating season
- Keep adequate ventilation (especially for the newer tighter homes) as this helps rid the home of excess moisture as well as other pollutants
- Install a dehumidifier in the basement if necessary
- To Learn more about mold and the impact on your health and home, Click here.
Although radon is a naturally occurring gas in our environment, it is also the second leading cause of lung cancer deaths in Canada, according to Health Canada. Remedial measures should be undertaken in a home whenever the average annual radon concentration exceeds 200 becquerels per cubic meter (200 Bq/m³). Many Canadians have had their homes tested for radon, and you should, too. To learn more about Radon, Click here